New York, January 7, 2024—The Committee to Protect Journalists has called for an independent investigation into an Israeli drone strike that killed Al-Jazeera journalist Hamza Al Dahdouh, who is the son of Al-Jazeera Gaza bureau chief Wael Al Dahdouh, and freelance journalist Mustafa Thuraya on Sunday as they drove their car to an assignment in southern Gaza.
“The killings of journalists Hamza Al Dahdouh and Mustafa Thuraya must be independently investigated, and those behind their deaths must be held accountable. The continuous killings of journalists and their family members by Israeli army fire must end: journalists are civilians, not targets,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour.
Wael Al Dahdouh has lost five family members in Israeli attacks. On October 25, an airstrike killed his wife, daughter, son, and grandson when it hit the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, according to a statement from Al-Jazeera and Politico. “The Al Dahdouh family and their journalist colleagues in Gaza are rewriting what it means to be a journalist today with immensely brave and never-seen-before sacrifices,” said Mansour.
Hamza Al Dahdouh was a journalist and camera operator for Al-Jazeera. He was killed along with Thuraya, a freelance videographer who worked with Agence France Press (AFP), according to multiple news reports. At least one other man was injured in the strike, which occurred outside of Khan Yunis, according to news reports.
CPJ has repeatedly expressed concern at the apparent targeting of journalists reporting on the war. Investigations by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Reuters, and AFP into the October 13 strike in southern Lebanon that killed Reuters videographer Issam Abdallah and injured six other journalists found that the attack was likely a deliberate assault by the Israel Defense Forces on civilians, which would constitute a war crime.
“Israel says it does not target journalists. It needs to explain whether it used one of its drones for a precision attack on these two journalists and why it launched strikes on those like Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah, who was clearly wearing press insignia and away from direct fighting,” said Mansour.
CPJ’s email requesting comment from the North America Desk of the Israel Defense Forces did not immediately receive a response.
The Israel-Gaza war has taken an unprecedented toll on the media community. Dozens of journalists and their family members have been killed in the Israel-Gaza war since the start of fighting on October 7. More journalists were killed in the first 10 weeks of the conflict than have ever been killed in a single country over an entire year, according to CPJ data.
Editor’s note: Since publication of this statement, the Israel Defense Forces told The Times of Israel that Al Dahdouh and Thuraya were traveling in the car with “a terrorist who operated an aircraft in a way that put IDF forces at risk.” When asked if the IDF had evidence to support its allegation, an IDF spokesperson told NBC News the incident was “unfortunate” and an investigation was still ongoing. Al-Jazeera told NBC that Thuraya was a freelance drone operator for the network, adding that the journalists were not flying a drone while driving back to Rafah.